A message from Rev. Jeffrey D. Soga which appears in the book, “The Taste of the Nembutsu,” published in 2016 by the HHMH State Ministers’ Association. The book is a collection of dharma messages by each of the active ministers.
To extend the reach of the dharma within these messages, we will publish one per week on our website.
Rev. Jeffrey D. Soga
In Shakyamuni Buddha’s boundless great compassion, the Buddha is filled with commiseration for the beings of the three realms. I have appeared in the world and expounded the teachings of the way to enlightenment, seeking to save the multitudes of living beings by blessing them with the benefit that is true and real.
(Sutra of Infinite Life)
The Buddha’s teaching is teaching us how to become Buddha or enlightened one. To explain this, I would like to share the story I read when I was child.
There were two renkon (lotus root) living together in the bog. One renkon was big and fat, and the other was skinny. One morning, the skinny renkon said to big one, “I am living in this muddy pond for many years and only know this dark place. I wonder what kind of world exists outside of this bog. Let’s try to go outside together.” Then the big renkon asked, “What are you talking about? What will you do to find such a wondrous world? I would rather go deeper and look for a fertile place and become bigger.” Then he went into a deeper place. However, the skinny renkon grew a shoot and went up little by little. Eventually, the shoot reached the surface of the muddy water and saw the glowing sunshine, felt the cool breeze, and noticed the sky filled with birds and butterflies. Finally, the skinny renkon produced a beautiful lotus flowers on its stem.
I wonder which renkon you are. Do you just take things for granted every day? Is your everyday life just for satisfying your selfish desires? Do you just live your life without any concern about why you were born in this world as a human being or what is the meaning of your life?
As we are born into this world, we eventually have to face our own death. Our death can happen anytime. Please imagine how your family will remember you, if you, who are reading this article, have your flame of life extinguished tonight. I sometimes think about my demise. How would my family remember me? I wish they would shed at least a small drop of tear, and my wife and children will cherish good memories of me. Or will they be happy and celebrate because a noisy, selfish, and troublesome father is gone? How about you? What kind of everyday life shall we live if we want our families to remember us as good people? If I keep myself as a kind and gentle husband and father, then my family will take me for granted and become spoiled. However, if I keep myself as a strict father, that isn’t all good either. It is very difficult to live as an ideal father. I am a spiritually weak person and a person possessing greed, anger and complaints. In fact, my life is just like a big renkon in the muddy pond. Have we lost the true meaning and purpose of our lives?
The true intent for Shakyamuni Buddha to appear in this world 2600 years ago was to give us true teachings and to guide us to enlightenment. The reason why we have to become a Buddha is because Shakyamuni Buddha is wishing us to become a Buddha. In gassho